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No matter how much we talk about "leaning in" and redefining what "like a girl" looks like, as a Latina mom, I struggle tremendously when trying to find good role models for my daughter. The latest blow comes from a doll maker that says they were "inspired by Latin culture," to create their newest line, represented by sisters Vi (short for Viviana) and Va (Valentina). They are 16 and 15-years-old and love music and cooking empanadas, respectively. And wearing trashy clothes. Their cousins Felicia (an artist) and Roxxi (a dancer that carries around a huge boombox her mom probably had in the 90s) also are dressed up in gaudy prints, long, dangly earrings, and high heels. Because this is how Hispanic teenagers dress, according to MGA Entertainment, makers of Bratz.
I guess Latinas don't play any team sports because all they do is dance, aren't interested in science, and once they graduate high school, don't even pursue college. Is this for real? In 2015? This latest generation of dolls gone wrong is not only is sexist, it's racist. There's nothing wrong with jumping on the Hispanic market bandwagon to make a buck as a business, but perpetuating the notion that Latinas are uneducated, scantily-clad, and only care about music, dancing, and cooking is offensive. The only accessories missing are hot peppers and maracas.
There's nothing wrong with jumping on the Hispanic market bandwagon to make a buck as a business, but perpetuating the notion that Latinas are uneducated, scantily-clad, and only care about music, dancing, and cooking is offensive. The only accessories missing are hot peppers and maracas.
At least the dolls show that Hispanics can have different hair and eye colors, and there's a Vi doll that has darker skin than the others. But all girls deserve better role models, including the images reflected in the toys available to them to play with—especially during the formative years when it's critical they see positive images of their heritage and culture. They can be smart, and desire (and have) a career while still enjoying cooking, family and art.
At the latest Miami-Dade science fair, I saw dozens of girls, many speaking Spanish to their parents, presenting elaborate projects. In my son's basketball league, there are accomplished female players. We have a Latina Supreme Court Justice, Latina best-selling authors, accomplished doctors, scientists, engineers, lawyers, and the list goes on. Latinas occupy positions of power and prestige, so why is it that the toys marketed to Hispanic girls don't reflect that reality?
It's time to realize more than one Latina teen prefers basketball to dancing, Converse sneakers to stripper heels, jean shorts and a T-shirt to mismatched prints and dangly earrings. Does that mean those girls aren't Latina enough? Our girls, no matter their race or culture, deserve better. I will not be buying my 9-year-old these dolls and I'm using my voice so we can show strong, powerful and smarter role models to Latinas of all ages.